Oscar History

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Entries in Andy Serkis (11)


The New York Times' Great Performers' Shorts, Ranked

by Ilich Mejia

Every year, The New York Times Magazine picks their greatest performers of the year. This year's top ten each got to star in their own silent, "Horror Show" themed short. Italian-Canadian photographer Floria Sigismondi directed the group as characters that wouldn't be out of place in Beyoncé's haunted house. Hopefully next year, the magazine will branch out and recognize some of television's equally terrific performances. Check out the spooky standouts after the cut...

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Andy Serkis's Directorial Debut Arrives This Year

Chris here. With War for the Planet of the Apes arriving in theatres next weekend, we're already seeing the reawakened thinkpieces about an honorary Oscar for Andy Serkis that comes with what seems every motion capture performance from the actor. But now we can add another level to his multi-hyphenate talent as the risk-taker is now taking up the directing reigns with this fall's Breathe.

The true story tragic romance stars recent Oscar nominee Andrew Garfield as the polio-stricken Robin Cavendish, with The Crown's Claire Foy as his wife Diana. This is technically Serkis's second directorial effort, with his take on The Jungle Book filmed prior and now in CGI-heavy post-production. Jungle is maybe a more expected journey for the motion capture virtuoso, so Breathe makes a somewhat more intriguing choice despite it's quite familiar plot. Perhaps it's the film's spirit of innovation that calls to him, as Cavendish helped create a wheelchair equipped with a respirator.

Breathe will open the London Film Festival and open stateside on October 13. Take a look at the trailer and tell us your thoughts in the comments!


First Look at Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy in "Breathe"

by Murtada

While we wait for Nathaniel’s first Oscar predictions of the 2017 season (soon) let's discuss one of the films that might contend, Andy Serkis’ Breathe. The new drama announced an October 27th release date in the UK with a US plan still forthcoming. A la The Theory of Everything (2014) it is the true life story of a marriage altered by disease. Based on the life story of its producer, Jonathan Cavendish’s parents, Breathe, is about a man who is struck by Polio in his late 20s...

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Actors Love "Tootsie". And Other Discoveries

By now you've surely seen Time Out's "100 Best Movies" list. The hook and unusual angle is that the list is comprised solely from ballots of actors. Actors are famously impressionable of course so you get embarrassing things like the barely-out-of-the-oven Whiplash (2014) as one of the 100 best movies of all time but it's still an interesting list. #1 is not your usual Citizen Kane/Vertigo type deal (only one of those two makes the list) but is awarded to the classic comedy Tootsie (1982).

(And, no, we had no intention of posting two Tootsie related articles within the same 24 hours -- don't miss this piece on The Americans since we wanna know what you think of this new series idea -- but blogging can surprise you.)

The complete Time Out 100 list and 10 discoveries after the jump...

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AFI Fest: Weta Digital Celebrates 20 Years with New Technology

Anne Marie here at the AFI Fest with another special event. Weta Digital, the pioneering VFX company behind some of the biggest blockbusters, including the Marvel franchise, Avatar, and The Hobbit, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. In  “State of the Art: The Evolution of Weta Digital," Visual Effects Supervisor Dan Lemmon gave audiences a peek behind the digital curtain of Weta Digital’s latest film, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, to show how the company develops performance capture to assist and augment cinematography.

 Weta Digital is probably best known for its motion capture process (dubbed “performance capture” by James Cameron "because they also capture emotions"). Dan Lemmon explained that this evolved from Andy Serkis filming scenes as Gollum twice for The Lord of the Rings, into a sophisticated system called a “Capture Volume,” a cube of space surrounded by infrared cameras that record the actors’ movements. For Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, director Matt Reeves wanted to shoot the apes on location, so a new “portable” version was developed. The result had a profound effect not only on the technology of performance capture, but also on the look of the film--both digital and real.

Serkis in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Since Avatar won the Oscar for Best Cinematography in 2009, each subsequent winner has been a VFX-heavy film, so the unspoken question was how Weta Digital interacted with Michael Seresin, the cinematographer of Dawn. Shooting on location allowed Seresin to light the ape actors as he would real characters. Then, Weta Digital could match that lighting on the pixelized primates. In addition, Seresin and Reeves developed a look book, pulling images from The Godfather and grittier 70s films. Dan Lemmon explained that Weta’s job was to mimic Seresin’s intentions, for instance digitally creating the vertigo-inducing helicopter shot for the climax. However, Lemmon also proudly pointed out how Weta Digital improved on Seresin’s vision, whether it was by manipulating the light to capture a digital ape’s eyes, or by adding fake “flaws” to the helicopter shot in order to make the synthetic image more real. 

The result of Weta Digital’s collaboration with Seresin is undoubtedly remarkable, and pushes VFX to be accepted as an art, rather than a gimmick. Still, Weta's additions to Seresin's work mark a definite change in the visual landscape of moviemaking. As VFX are integrated from pre-production to filming to post-production and digital effects get clearer, the line between cinematography and visual effects is going to get increasingly muddy.


Podcast: A Smackdown Companion w/ Dana Delany

Dana Delany loves talking movies! You can see her next in "Hand of God" on Amazon PrimeYou've read the Supporting Actress Smackdown of 1973. Now hear its companion Podcast 

On this special episode of the podcast -- meant to enhance and extend the current Supporting Actress Smackdown conversation to include the films themselves -- Nathaniel welcomes two time Emmy winner Dana Delany (China Beach, Desperate Housewives, Body of Proof), as well as EW editor at large and "Five Came Back" author Mark Harris, "You Must Remember This" podcast goddess Karina Longworth, Bill Chambers from Film Freak Central, and Kyle Turner from The Movie Scene.

You'll want to listen to this one. Trust me on this: your week will not be complete until you hear Dana's Sylvia Sidney impression and Mark's childhood Exorcist story. 

Smackdown 1973
00:01 Introductions
02:45 American Graffiti: nostalgia, sexism, George Lucas, actors vs screenplay
13:15 Summer Wishes Winter Dreams: New Yorkers and Joanne Woodward's psyche
20:30 Paper Moon: Tatum O'Neal and the matter of child actors
23:15 The Exorcist: assembled performances, stand-ins, horror subjectivity
29:45 "Collaborative Performances" Andy Serkis & Linda Blair
34:00 We share childhood stories about seeing scary/adult movies
40:00 Behind the Scenes history & Dana talks Emmys & the awards circus
45:35 Paper Moon: Madeline Kahn, great screenplays, category fraud, and films about The Great Depression 
55:00 Final Questions / Goodbyes 

You can listen at the bottom of the post or download the conversation on iTunes. Continue the conversation in the comments.

NEXT ON THE SMACKDOWN: 1989 on August 31st

Smackdown Companion 1973


Tweet of the Capsule of the Dawn of The Planet of the Apes

Of the. of the. of the. Help, stuck in a prepositional loop! I regret to inform that there is no full review of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) -- you may have noticed unusually sparse off my game posting -- but I press on with this exhaustively multi-tasking post. It's a list. It's a tweet roundup. It's a review.

I can't go on. I'll go on."
-Samuel Beckett 

Were I to write a traditional review of the surprisingly strong sequel to the surprisingly good Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) it would essentially be some sort of fussy expansion and tangent filled detours of these 10 points:

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you wouldn't be able to do these awful things to me if i weren't still in this Blog | But cha'aar, Link, ya'aar!

Boy Culture counts down 100 best Golden Girls guest spots - movie stars of yore!
The Daily Beast has an excellent piece on Tammy and Melissa McCarthy's career and body (also body of work) by Teo Bugbee
New Yorker thorough piece on the arguments for and against VOD for indies and the question of "cultural endurance" (I'm against VOD in general but I recognize that's probably because I live in NYC where I can actually see the movies and I think moviegoing is so much more immersive than watching things at home)

Me Says considers Notes on a Scandal (2006) the Whatever Happened to Baby Jane of our time 
Bad-Ass Digest on Exodus: Gods and Kings' 'white men with bronzer' cast. Will it finally crystallize the white-wash problem for people who still don't get it? 
Nathaniel R and have you seen that tacky black&white-in-color poster?
EW Dick Jones the voice of Pinocchio dies at 87 
Radar apparently Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes are 7 months pregnant... I thought they broke up? I can't keep up with celebrity lovelives 
Cosmopolitan has a cool piece on top stuntwomen... stunts are on my mind alot given that it's blockbuster season and this piece a month back...
TFE an interview with Hollywood's top stuntman Bobby Holland Hanton
Movie Dearest interviews the screenwriter of the 80s shocker Crimes of Passion starring Kathleen Turner  

Finally, what do you make of this plea for a collaborative performance Oscar?

Outstanding Collaborative Performance: Andy Serkis and company from Press Play Video Blog on Vimeo.


On the one hand I absolutely agree that Andy Serkis needs an Oscar and I've been saying so since 2002. But, like Mark Harris, I don't think it needs to be a competitive one. Creating Oscar categories or changing Oscar rules due to one or two special things (like say a Batman movie directed by Chris Nolan or a really great year for animation) usually results in far more problems and undeserving honors than it's worth. I say bring back the special Oscar for cinematic achievements that don't have competitive categories. When I was a kid that was a semi-regular event and it was nearly always cool.